Seniors and Nutrition: How Nutritional Needs Change With Age

Seniors and Nutrition: How Nutritional Needs Change With Age

As we age, nutrition plays a vital role in quality of life, physical and mental health.

Whether we like it or not, physiological changes in the body make it more difficult to get the nutrition we need to maintain health and wellness as we age. It’s one reason why older adults are more vulnerable to chronic illness and infection. In fact, nutrient deficiency is the most common cause of a depressed immune system.

While not always noticeable, over time, aging causes biological changes in the body, including changes in muscle mass, metabolism, bone density and digestion, to name a few. In addition to changes in the body, some older adults find it difficult to cook and struggle with dental issues, chronic illness, or dementia.

Nutrition—and eating a healthy diet—is a significant factor to maintaining one’s health as these changes take place.

Aging and Weight

Eating poorly can lead to unwanted and unhealthy weight gain at any age, but it can also lead to dangerous weight loss for older adults.

Many older adults experience a loss of appetite that ultimately lead to nutrient deficiencies and other health problems. Adults over the age of 65 simply have a harder time achieving the recommended daily nutritional requirements.

Because people tend to slow down as they age, muscle mass and metabolic rates decline in response to less activity and exercise. Less activity decreases caloric needs, so older adults are also at risk of unhealthy weight gain.

Dieticians and nutritionists recommend eating nutrient-dense foods as a strategy for maintaining a healthy weight. Nutrient-dense foods are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Learn how The Dementia Diet incorporates nutrient-rich foods.

Aging and Nutrients

When we’re young, many of us can eat what we want and never experience any unwanted weight loss or gain. You can expect this to change with age. Changes in the body composition and lifestyle impact not only how much we eat, but how we process essential nutrients.

While we cannot prevent aging, we can thwart some of the unwanted side effects that come from aging by improving our diet and nutrition.

Specifically, getting sufficient levels of calcium, fiber, iron, protein, vitamins, and zinc in the diet or in supplement form is much more important to older adults. Here’s why:

Calcium – with age, women especially tend to lose bone mass at an accelerated rate, leading to osteoporosis. A diet high in calcium can provide protection against this disease and improve bone density.

Fiber – as we age, we produce less digestive enzymes, which slows down digestion. Dietary fiber is needed to maintain healthy bowl and digestive function.

Iron – anemia is common in older adults and is often attributed to an insufficient dietary intake of iron-rich foods and malabsorption. Foods rich in vitamin C and B-12 are known to assist with iron absorption.

Protein – protein is important for preventing the loss of lean muscle mass, which happens naturally in older adults. Many adults also have chronic inflammation, which increases the body’s need for protein.

Vitamin A – due to suppressed immune function, older adults are at a greater risk of infection. Vitamin A has been linked to T-cell response and immune function.

Vitamin B – vitamin B-12 becomes more difficult to absorb with age, so doctors often recommend supplements as a strategy to increase intake.

Vitamin C – vitamin C helps with healing and immune function. It is a strong antioxidant and helps protect the body against disease. It’s also been shown to lower blood pressure.

Vitamin D – older adults are at high risk of vitamin D deficiencies caused by decreased mobility, lack of sunlight, and changes to the skin. A lack of vitamin D in the diet can cause weakness, fatigue, changes in mood, and depression.

Zinc – age can compromise the body’s ability to absorb zinc from food, leading to a weakened immune system and increased susceptibility to infection.

Mental health is equally at risk as physical health in older adults. Specifically, a deficiency of vitamin B is known to affect cognitive functioning and cause depression in older adults, but according to the National Resource Center on Nutrition and Aging, as much as 30% of older adults are unable to absorb vitamin B-12 through food sources. In many cases, supplements are recommended to meet daily requirements.

Aging and Nutrient Deficiencies

Older adults are at higher risk for developing nutrient deficiencies due to a low dietary intake or impairment in absorption of nutrients in the body.

Due to changes in the digestive system, as we age, it becomes more difficult for the body to break down and absorb nutrients from food. Fortunately supplements can offer added protection.

There are a variety of age-related factors that contribute to nutrient deficiencies in older adults. These include:

  • Changes in body composition (increased fat/decreased muscle mass)
  • Changes in appetite and physiological function
  • Sensory impairment or reduced sense of smell and taste
  • Poor oral hygiene and dental health
  • Gatrointestinal disorders
  • Loss of cognitive function, i.e. dementia
  • Medication interactions

Maintaining a healthy diet as an older adult can be especially challenging for those on medications or living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia behaviors. Supplements are often recommended to offset the loss of vital nutrients that come with age.

Learn more about which supplements are required for healthy aging here.

Aging and Diet

When it comes to diet and nutrition, it’s important to make every bite count! While supplements can offer some help, nutritionists agree, it is always better to obtain nutrients from food.

Keep in mind, one food group cannot provide all the nutrients older adults need. Eating a variety of foods helps people get the full range of essential vitamins and minerals they need.

If you are wondering if you or your loved one are getting enough of the recommended nutrients you need for healthy aging and longevity, talk to your doctor or download the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Be sure to follow Sonata Senior Living on Facebook and Twitter for nutritional tips and guidance.

Sources

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6971894/
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13670-018-0241-5
https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2021-03/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans-2020-2025.pdf
https://www.consumerreports.org/healthy-eating/how-older-adults-can-meet-their-protein-needs-a8954254493/
https://www.agingcare.com/articles/signs-vitamin-d-deficiency-in-seniors-176286.htm

If there is an older adult in your life who may benefit from better diet and nutrition, call Sonata Senior Living and
schedule a tour today.

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Immunity Boosting Strategies for Seniors

Immunity Boosting Strategies For Seniors

Immunity Boosting Strategies For Seniors

Your immune system is designed to protect your body from harmful bacteria and viruses, but as we age, it doesn’t always keep us as safe as it once did. It’s just one more part of the natural aging process that requires a little extra care and attention as we get older.

It’s also why health care professionals encourage older adults to get vaccinated every year. Older adults are more vulnerable to complications from Covid-19, flu and other viruses, so preventing infection the first place is the best course of defense.

How Immunity Changes with Age

As with many biological changes associated with growing older, waning immunity is one aspect of aging that contributes to illness. That’s because we need a healthy immune system to protect us from harmful bacteria, viruses, and disease.

It’s called immunosenescence, or the decrease in immune function experienced with age, and it causes older adults to get sick more often. In short, it takes older adults longer to recover from illness due to changes in cell function.

As we age, we produce fewer white blood cells needed to fight infection. For older adults, fewer white blood cells in the body translate to slower recovery time and healing from illness.

Even though they need protection the most, older adults are also less responsive to vaccinations. For this reason, special formulations with more antigens are made specially for older adults.

Diet and Immunity

The relationship between diet and immunity has been widely examined by scientists with many studies emphasizing the importance of macronutrients, micronutrients, and the gut (or microbiome) in improving immune health.

Vaccination is the best defense against seasonal illnesses like influenza. However, many studies highlight how diet and nutrition play a crucial role in strengthening immunity. Moreover, scientists believe nutrients can influence immune cell activity in the body. Other studies have shown that our immune system relies on nutrients for growth and function, including vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, iron, and protein. In short, eating essential nutrients keeps the immune system working properly.

Immune Boosting Nutrients in Food 

Scientists are still working to understand the complex relationship between diet and immune health. While there is still much to learn, we do know that micronutrients play a key role in supporting the function of immune cells. These include:

  • Beta Carotene – an antioxidant and protects the body against cell damage. It is found in plant foods such as spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, and carrots.
  • Vitamin C – a crucial nutrient that helps prevent disease, including heart disease and cancer. It is found in berries, melons, citrus fruits, tomatoes, bell peppers, and broccoli.
  • Vitamin D – helps the body to absorb calcium and reduces inflammation. Vitamin D sources include supplements, fatty fish, eggs, and milk.
  • Zinc – helps repair damaged tissue and support cell growth. High levels of zinc are found in beef, shellfish, beans, seeds, nuts, eggs, and whole grains.
  • Iron – an essential mineral for the development of immune cells, iron is found in red meat, poultry, and seafood as well as beans, spinach, and tofu.

For immune health, add to that a healthy level of microorganisms in the gut. Scientists have discovered that both probiotics and prebiotics are good for the immune system because they help regulate cytokine production and T cells, which protect the body from infection.

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that improve immunity by increasing the presence of the good bacteria in the gut. You can find probiotics in fermented foods such as yogurt, fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, miso, and kombucha tea.

Prebiotic foods promote healthy bacteria in the gut, which is also linked to immune health. Foods include onions, leeks, garlic, bananas, seaweed, and dandelion greens.

Eating Tips for Immune Health

Making a few modifications to your diet can help increase your total intake of recommended nutrients for added protection against infection and disease.

Sonata Senior Living is committed to enhancing the health and nutrition of older adults in senior living communities throughout Florida. They offered these tips as a way to boost immunity throughout flu season and year-round:

  • Fill your plate with vegetables, including broccoli, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini and brussel sprouts.Broccoli is one of the most nutritious vegetables and a favorite immunity booster, plus it’s incredibly easy to prepare since it can be steamed, roasted, or baked.
  • Make it spicy. Adding spice to recipes boost antioxidants in the diet.
  • Ferment foods. Foods with probiotics help us maintain a healthy gut microbiome, which is linked not only to immune function, but digestion and inflammation. Simply having yogurt can help you get in the live, active cultures.
  • Stir-fry and roast. Stir-frying and roasting help preserve the nutrients content in vegetables better than boiling and steaming and often taste better!
  • Cook with fat. Cooking with olive, flaxseed, or avocado oil can combat inflammation in the body, which has been linked to chronic illnesses.

Keep in mind, there is no magic bullet, food group or cooking method that can protect you against illness, but making a few simple changes can give your body the extra ammunition it needs to maintain immune health as you age.

Support For a Healthy Immune System

An immune-boosting diet is fuel for a healthy body and brain. Physical changes caused by age may make healthy eating more challenging, but even small changes to your diet will provide benefits beyond what you thought possible.

Eating a balanced diet comprising lean meats, vegetables, whole grains, and plenty of water will work wonders for your immune system, but a healthy lifestyle is also essential for your health.

If you are finding it difficult to get the nutrition you need or are living with chronic illness or dementia, discover how moving to a senior living community in Florida is a safe way to improve health and wellness and maintain it as you age.

Sources

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0531556517306599
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2214799318300055#preview-section-abstract
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723551/
https://www.nutritionnews.abbott/healthy-living/diet-wellness/how-nutrition-supports-your-immune-system/
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322412

Learn more about assisted living and memory care at Sonata Senior Living and our
commitment to the health and wellness of older adults. Schedule a tour today to a Sonata community near you.

GUIDE TO THE DEMENTIA DIET


As much as dementia disrupts one's appetite, it also increases your need for food. Find out how dementia care experts prevent weight loss and promote nutrition at Serenades Memory Care.

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5 Family Caregiver Resolutions That Improve Mental Health

5 Family Caregiver Resolutions That Improve Mental Health

More than 50 million people provide unpaid care to a family member or about 22% of all adults living in the United States. Each of them has what can only be described as the toughest job in the world.

In addition to their regular job and family responsibilities, family caregivers assist their loved one with various types of personal care, including bathing, grooming, dressing, walking and exercise. They also take care of the housekeeping, shopping, meal preparation, transportation and other errands related to coordinating all the care needs of a family member.

Somewhere in between all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and care, the emotional and physical needs of family caregivers are neglected, causing physical and mental exhaustion and illness and creating what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have deemed a public health issue.

If you are a family caregiver, there’s no better time than the start of a new year to take control of your health. Rounded up by the experts at Sonata Senior Living, these five New Year’s Resolutions can curtail the physical and emotional stress caused by family caregiving.

  1. Treat Yourself

When you are caring for a loved one, months can go by in a blink of an eye. It is usually 3 or 4 months in before some realize that they have not set aside time to attend to one’s own personal needs. It is also around this time that one’s health may also begin to suffer.

Spending time and money on themselves is the opposite of what comes natural to caregivers, but it’s an important strategy for staving off mental exhaustion. The caregivers at Sonata recommend picking a minimum of one afternoon each month to “treat” oneself to an enjoyable activity. It may be a favorite pastime such as attending a concert or Florida amusement park, having dinner at a five-star restaurant, or simply getting a mani-pedi.

Many family caregivers find it helpful to create a standing monthly appointment for a massage or beauty service that “forces” them to take the “me time” they both need and deserve.

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to treating yourself. Simply ask yourself the question, “What would you like to do today?” It could make the difference between powering through a few more months of caregiving or developing a dangerous case of caregiver burnout.

  1. Find a Hobby.

As human beings, we long to do the things that make us happy. Each of us has our individual passions and pursuits—those things that bring us joy that are uniquely ours.

A caregiver’s calendar is often overextended and double booked. Hobbies and activities are regarded as a luxury available only to those in their retirement years or placed on the backburner for another day and time.

The caregiver experts are Sonata Senior Living regard “hobbies” as a form of self-care. Rather than a luxury, indulging in one’s personal passions is a form of medicine for maintaining our sense of self, including confidence, self-esteem and emotional well-being. If finding time is challenging, delegate one day a week or one hour a week to finding an activity you love.

If 2023 has you feeling extra ambitious, explore Facebook groups to match up with likeminded people on countless topics from travel groups to book clubs to gardening to simple social outings for friendship and fun.

Your hobby may simply involve binge-watching a new crime documentary on Netflix. There’s no time limit or skill requirement—the only requirement is that it makes you happy and forces you to take a break from caregiving.

  1. Get More Sleep

Medical professionals generally recommend eating a healthy diet and exercise to maintain physical health, but sleep deprivation has been linked directly to mental health issues. Plus, statistics show more than a third of family caregivers do not get enough sleep.

The fact that there are only 24 hours in a day is reason enough for caregivers to not get enough sleep. Busy tending the needs of family, children, house and job demands, the only time left to attend to one’s personal needs may be in the wee hours of the night. The never-ending list of to-dos exacerbate stress and anxiety caused by caregiving, creating a dysfunctional cycle of sleepless nights.

If you find yourself having less patience or signs of depression, it’s possible you are not getting enough sleep. Most adults needs between seven and nine hours a sleep each night to process emotions. Think of sleep as the brain’s time to rest and recharge. Without it, the brain will release extra cortisol, creating cognitive functioning problems related to concentration, memory, and mood.

  1. Go Out With Friends

While your days of hitting the club may be long gone, your days of reconnecting with old friends are long overdue. The New Year is the perfect time to reach out to that friend on Facebook you’ve been meaning to call for months….or even years. Not only will you make an old friend happy to be spending valuable time with you, but you’ll gain a renewed sense of purpose by spending an afternoon off from caregiving responsibilities.

Keep your social engagements simple and flexible so as not to invite unwanted stress. After all, you are still a busy family caregiver. The difference is…..you are reallocating some of your time commitment to yourself to nurture your emotional health.

At the end of the day, the key to nurturing your mental health while juggling both life and caregiving responsibilities involves meeting your own basic human needs, which includes your happiness. Enriching your personal life with activities, interest groups, social connections and companionship will serve as a form of “sanity check” amid the constant pressure to perform well in one of the toughest jobs in the world.

  1. Make a Plan

Family caregivers are naturally giving, compassionate and selfless people, but there may come a time when you can no longer provide the level of support your loved one needs, no matter how much you want to. The uncertainty that comes with the future can create anxiety, so creating a plan for the future now, before it becomes a crisis, can provide peace of mind.

Nobody can predict how your loved one’s health needs will change, but looking at options for long-term care support earlier in the process can prevent stress. This may involve talking to your loved one’s doctor about his or her care option and visiting long-term care communities, including assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. Respite care is also a good option for short-term caregiving assistance.

Assisted Living vs. Home Care

In addition to the physical and emotional toll, family caregiving is financially straining. Many caregivers find that rent in an assisted living facility works out to be more affordable than providing care in the family home.

According to the latest Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the average cost of an assisted living facility in Florida was $4,000. Conversely, the average cost of a home health aide was $4,767 and requires additional hours of involvement from family caregivers.

At Sonata Senior Living, assisted living caregivers offer support around-the-clock and 24-hour oversight. Family caregivers are given the opportunity to redirect their time and energy back to their own lives and families and refocus on their own health and emotional wellness, which is better for everyone.

Find more information and statistics about family caregiving in the 2020 Companion Report of Caregiving in the U.S. published by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP.

Learn how to recognize the signs that it could be time for assisted living support.

Learn more about the award-winning independent and assisted living at Sonata Senior Living and schedule a tour today.

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How Friends Improve Health in Senior Living

How Friends Improve Health in Senior Living

There’s a reason the term “friends and family” go hand in hand. Since childhood, we relied on friendships for many things. Friends support us through good times and bad. Friends will lend a hand when we’re in need. Friends can give us purpose when we’re searching for meaning. And perhaps most importantly, friends make us laugh…even when we want to cry.

When we’re young, making friends is easy, but as we age, maintaining friendships can prove challenging. No longer in the workplace, school, and other social circles, the opportunities to meet people and make friends wane. Yet maintaining connections in life has been linked to greater health and wellness.

Socialization and Physical Health

For decades scientists have been studying the positive health effects of socialization, and as it turns out, friendships are much more important to our health than we tend to think. That’s because the act of socializing with friends requires increased physical activity. On the surface, it may seem insignificant, but over several years, a socially active lifestyle adds up to improvements in cardiovascular health.

Most recently, a study in The Journals of Gerontology found older adults who interact with people beyond their usual circle of family and friends are more likely to have higher levels of physical activity simply because they spend less time lounging at home and sedentary. Whether for lunch, coffee or a walk in the park, older adults with a robust social life tend to leave the house more often to meet other people. Increased activity created by social engagement equates to better health.

Socialization improves senior health in many ways, including:

  • Lower Stress – social interaction releases neurotransmitters in the brain that reduce anxiety and stress
  • Less Depression – People who live a more socially active life report higher overall well-being late in life
  • Higher Self-Esteem – friends increase our sense of belonging and purpose, building self-esteem
  • Increased Fitness – a strong social support network encourages seniors get out and about more often, thereby boosting fitness levels
  • Improved Cognition – social interactions keep seniors intellectually engaged and mentally “sharp”
  • Longer Lifespan – backed by research, a robust social life can add years to our lives

 

Socialization and Longevity

Like diet and exercise, friendship can also extend your life.

A group known by social behaviorists as “SuperAgers,” people aged 80 and above who have the mental agility of much younger people, credit social engagement for their youthful mental strength. Researchers from the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center (CNADC) at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine found close friendships later in life prevented mental decline.

Developmental psychologist Susan Pinker in the book The Village Effect came to similar conclusions, claiming that social interaction is not only necessary for human happiness, but can also help us live longer. An expert in the emerging field of social neuroscience, she asserts that humans are hard-wired to connect to other human beings and form bonds that teach us, help us, heal us, and extend life.

Watch this video about how personal relationships can help you live to 100 years and beyond.

Socialization and Emotional Health

Friendships are scientifically proven to improve mental health by reducing the adverse effects of stress. Simply making eye contact with another human being is known to release neurotransmitters in the brain that reduce anxiety, relax us and make us, well, feel good.

According to a study published in Psychology and Aging, older adults who live a socially active life are more “satisfied” with life and experience less decline toward the end of life. The author, Dr. Denis Gerstorf, correlates satisfaction and fulfillment with one’s sense of belonging to a social network.

This has certainly been our experience in senior living! In fact, many older adults move to a senior living community to meet people of the same age with similar interests. Becoming part of a community gives residents a sense of purpose while promoting physical activity and social participation in life enrichment activities. It’s a win-win.

At Sonata Senior Living, residents often say they are motivated to stay active when daily activities are offered. While they may or may not have had the energy to attend a fitness class that day, the fact that it is happening—sometimes just down the hall—is motivation to attend.

Among the many social benefits offered by senior living communities, the constant availability of activities, events, and classes keeps older adults intellectually stimulated, leading to greater well-being. Add to that the convenience of having a maintenance-free lifestyle, chef-prepared meals and built-in wellness services, and senior living ticks all the boxes required for healthy aging and longevity.

Socialization and Cognitive Function

Friends can even make you smarter.

A socially engaged lifestyle involves cognitive stimulation and physical activity, which in turn offers protection against the neurological and physical factors underlying cognitive decline.

In 2021, researchers at the Center For Healthy Aging at Penn State measured the brain’s processing speed and attention and discovered older adults who interacted more frequently with friends were more likely to perform better on cognitive tests. The study, published in ScienceDaily, found adults who are deprived of social experiences increase their risk for cognitive decline later in life. Conversely, older adults who stay socially engaged reap the benefits of improved memory and cognition.

Loneliness and Alzheimer’s Disease

A social life is important to most people, but more so to older adults who are at risk of cognitive decline. Think of friendship as a form of self-care, equally important as eating a nutritious diet and exercising.

Older adults that age at place in the family home are at greater risk of social isolation. Social isolation and loneliness can increase one’s chance of developing emotional and physical illnesses including heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity. Loneliness has also been tied to an increase in anxiety, depression, and even risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Senior Living Communities and Socialization

The easiest way to maintain a healthy social life in retirement is by moving to a senior living community. Senior living communities come with a built-in social network of friends and caregivers as well as daily activities designed to keep older adults mentally, physically, and intellectually engaged.

From participating in social activities to interacting with family and friends, socializing is a critical part of staying healthy and happy as we age and one of many reasons why older adults move to an independent or assisted living community like Sonata Senior Living.

Learn more about the award-winning independent and assisted living at Sonata Senior Living and schedule a tour today.

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Senior Living Partnerships: An Extension of Your Family

Senior Living Partnerships: An Extension of Your Family

Many of us think of family as the people we are related to biologically…a child, a parent, a sibling, a spouse. A genealogical relationship formed by either marriage or birth, encompassing grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and so on.

At Sonata Senior Living, our definition of family transcends biology. In fact, our “family” is also a place. A place of acceptance. A place of protection. A place of comfort, warmth, and compassion. A place fully inclusive of residents, their families, and our team members.

In other words, when you move to Sonata, you are not moving to an assisted living “facility.” You are gaining an extended “family.”

Family Partnerships at Sonata Senior Living

At Sonata, we welcome new residents with open arms and a servant heart. But it’s how we care for them that truly makes us different.

Caring for seniors and helping them live their best life is our passion. Partnering with our residents’ families helps us make that possible.

We hear more times than we can count how Sonata feels more like “family” than “facility.” This is not by accident. Rather, it’s a byproduct of a workforce culture that recognizes the importance of family partnerships and the positive impact it has on senior living resident health and wellness.

Partnering For Comfort

At Sonata, we care for older adults like family by including family. An in-depth interview with family members is the first step of our partnership. Families provide important information and details about their parent or spouse’s history, cultural background, dining and activity preferences, spiritual needs, routines, hobbies, and habits. Families are also given the opportunity to define what they believe a meaningful quality of life looks like for their loved one.

The process results in a “Lifestyle Profile” and serves as a guidepost for Sonata’s caregivers as they program personal routines and preferences into the resident’s surroundings, environment, daily activities, and care.

Using the Lifestyle Profile, caregivers at Sonata are equipped to anticipate needs and create an individualized personal care plan that customizes senior living for residents. It also offers comfort to families knowing their loved one is treated as a special and unique individual.

In Sonata’s independent living communities, the Lifestyle Profile helps match residents with like-minded individuals. Residents seamlessly transition from the family home to a robust social environment with opportunities to make new friends while engaging in activities they love.

When residents are engaged in activities they love and follow a routine that feels familiar, they feel more “at home.” When caregivers customize care and activities to a resident’s individual needs, they feel more like family.

Continuity of Care at Sonata Senior Living

At Sonata, continuity of care is essential to the well-being of our residents. It’s why we have higher standards in every aspect of operations—from safety protocols and clinical training to responsiveness and sanitation.

Our approach to care management leverages the latest in cloud access and is maintained in our secure electronic health records (EHR) system. Using Assisted Living Intelligent Software (ALIS), Sonata assures integration with care partners and optimal outcomes for residents.

We provide care plan meetings with families 30 days after move-in and every six months thereafter or whenever there is a change in care plans. Monthly wellness updates with families helps us measure health outcomes and proactively address any changes. The end result is a 98% satisfaction rating in family member surveys.

Partnering with families to provide care at Sonata includes:

  • Care plan meetings with families
  • Monthly wellness updates to families
  • Electronic health records
  • Real-time health information
  • Integration with care partners

Partnership Resources at Sonata Senior Living

At Sonata, our specially trained caregivers are long-term care experts. We exceed the state-required mandated training by implementing monthly web-based seminars to help our staff stay up to date with assisted living guidelines.

As experts in long-term care, part of our mission is to provide support and resources to our families. We offer education to both families and allied providers by hosting caregiver support groups and educational seminars. We are also actively involved with the Florida Senior Living Association (FSLA) and other local chapters of national organizations advocating the education and awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

If your loved one is in need of assisted living after a hospital stay, time is of the essence. Transitioning from a hospital to an assisted living community often requires evaluations and paperwork that can be both confusing and time intensive. Whenever necessary, Sonata provides same-day evaluations to assess the needs of your loved one and will arrange for a smooth transition and seamless transition of care, whether from a home, hospital or other setting.

As a resource to families, we offer:

  • Support groups
  • Educational seminars
  • Assistance with resident health assessments
  • Assistance with required forms, including AHCA Form 1823

Partnering Through Assistance

Our partnership initiatives reflect our commitment to provide support, resources and assistance to caregivers and their loved ones no matter where they fall in the long-term care continuum.

Some people prefer to transition to a Sonata Senior Living community slowly. Rather than committing to a move they may not be ready for, we help families make the transition gradually in our respite care program. Our Respite Stay program allows family members to experience our overnight personalized care while providing temporary rest, or “respite,” to family caregivers.

Once your loved one moves to Sonata, our support continues and never stops. Wellness services help families by bringing essential health care services to Sonata, removing the need for families and caregivers to coordinate doctor’s visits and therapy appointments. For those times an off-site doctor’s visit is necessary, we can also arrange scheduled transportation.

Sonata offers support and assistance to families:

Partnering Through Communications at Sonata Senior Living

The lines of communication are open up to and through the moment you or your loved one moves to a Sonata independent living, assisted living or memory care community. At every stage, we are in frequent communication with you to help coordinate the move-in process.

Once moved in, all Sonata families are enrolled in our family communications database and receive frequent updates related to daily life at Sonata.

Family communications at Sonata includes:

  • Emergency alerts
  • Monthly emails
  • Social media posts of activities and events
  • Sonata Safe signature programming

Most importantly, Sonata partners with families to ensure the safety of their loved ones. We are one of the few assisted living communities in South Florida that offers licensed nursing on-site, 24/7. We go well beyond the state mandate for hurricane preparedness in both construction and support services. Our staff training exceeds state standards. And our Sonata Safe signature program reflects our commitment to keeping your loved ones safe—just as we would our family.

To experience what is feels like to be a member of our family, schedule a visit to a Sonata Senior Living community near you.

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Sonata Senior Living Expands Serenades for her, Memory Care Exclusively for Women

Sonata Senior Living Expands Serenades for her, Memory Care Exclusively for Women

Orlando, FL – November 21, 2022 – Sonata Senior Living, an Orlando-based owner, operator, and developer of senior living communities, has announced the expansion of Serenades for her, its new and exclusively female memory care lifestyle option. This leading-edge program, originally launched in Serenades at West Orange, will now be offered in two neighborhoods in Serenades at The Villages and Serenades at Longwood. Serenades for her will also be a brand-new lifestyle option at Sonata Boynton Beach in South Florida.

All-female neighborhoods create a robust social environment in which women can revel in a newfound sense of sisterhood, enduring friendships, and mutual support. Activities will support social interaction tailored to female preferences, including art, music, culture, food, games, and group exercise. Dining and family room environments are also exclusively women-only to emphasize community and social interaction.

According to Sonata President and CEO, Shelley Esden, Serenades for her was born from years of experience in innovative memory care programming and purpose-built design. “It has been found that women experience Alzheimer’s disease and dementia differently and with greater frequency than men,” Esden said. “Sonata’s all-female neighborhood concept simplifies life for the resident and her loved ones, providing a greater degree of gender-specific privacy while giving family members increased peace of mind.”

According to Julie Fernandez, Regional Director of Operations for Sonata’s Serenades Memory Care communities, Serenades for her has been welcomed by residents and families. “Our initial neighborhoods were fully occupied almost immediately,” Fernandez said. “Many say the added level of privacy coupled with Serenades’ award-winning care and home-like environment are exactly what they were looking for in a Memory Care community.”

Renovations are now underway. Serenades for her features a more feminine color palette and décor aimed at evoking a sense of comfort and serenity. Architectural features and furnishings have been softened to promote tranquility. Amenities, too, have a distinctly feminine appeal. Serenades for her neighborhoods include an onsite salon and nail bar plus a Bath-tique Spa for moments of pure luxuriance. Of course, Serenades’ secure outdoor courtyard and garden space fulfill her desire for communion with the natural world.

Reservations are being accepted for immediate move-in. For more information, visit serenadesforher.com.

About Serenades Memory Care

Serenades by Sonata is a highly effective award-winning memory care program unlike any other found in the state of Florida. By focusing on what remains of the memory, Serenades integrates the personal preferences and abilities of residents into daily activities to promote independence, support freedom of choice, and improve the quality of life in those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Using a purpose-built model, Serenades Memory Care communities incorporate features proven to positively affect the treatment of dementia symptoms. These include beautiful, yet simplistic, open floor plans, color-coding, and cueing for easy orientation and navigation.

About Sonata Senior Living

Sonata Senior Living is a licensed owner, developer, and operator of independent living, assisted living, and memory care communities located exclusively in Florida. Recognized by Argentum as a Best of the Best Award recipient for memory care programming and design, Sonata Senior Living is committed to enriching the lives of older adults through constant innovation, programming, and services that recognize individuality and personal choice. Partners include the Florida Senior Living Association, the Alzheimer’s Association, Teepa Snow’s Positive Approach to Care®, and Argentum. For more information visit sonataseniorliving.com.

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Gifts of Gratitude For Family Caregivers

Gifts of Gratitude For Family Caregivers

The holidays are a time to show gratitude to those you love and few are more deserving of our appreciation than family caregivers.

If you have a caregiver in your life, these gift ideas will help convey your gratitude when words fall short.

Caregiver Gifts for Restoration

As fulfilling as it is, it goes without saying, caregiving is hard. The most thoughtful gifts recognize how difficult the job of caregiving can be.

If you are a family caregiver, chances are, you are exhausted and overextended. Millions of people provide care to a family member and need more support than they would like to admit, particularly during the holidays.

Caregiving is also physically demanding, so any gift designed to provide energy restoration will be appreciated. This could include both luxury items and beauty services that encourage a caregiver to treat themselves to a relaxing afternoon or well-deserved day off. Start with our list and call your local beauty salon for more ideas:

  • Manicure/pedicure – offers short-term respite to caregivers, if only for an hour
  • 90-minute massage – 60 minutes just isn’t enough when you have sore caregiver muscles
  • Silk sheets – there is not a caregiver in the world that does not deserve luxury bedding
  • Organic cotton pajamas – every moment to themselves should be extra cozy
  • Cashmere – whether it’s a comfy cardigan or buttery-soft socks, nothing says luxury like cashmere
  • Hydrafacial – stimulate cell growth in the face for a healthier glow after a long day

It’s not only about comfort and beauty. It’s about self-indulgence. Caregivers are so busy giving of themselves to others, many have very little time to indulge themselves. When they do, any gift that makes that time feel like a luxury is worthy of giving.

Caregiver Gifts for Self-Care

Whether your gift is for a professional caregiver or family caregiver, it is likely the caregiver in your life is in need of self-care. Caregiving is a selfless act of love and compassion, which sometimes leads to self-neglect, anxiety, and other health conditions.

Family caregivers may not always meet their own nutritional needs while so focused on the needs of their loved ones, so gifts that provide an infusion of health and wellness will go a long way toward showing you care.

  • Gift baskets with snacks – healthy snacks that are high in protein for extra nutrition are perfect for caregivers always “on the go”
  • Meal delivery service – meal prep takes time….a week of BlueApron or Freshly meals give caregivers time off from the kitchen
  • Indoor herb garden kit – grow herbs indoors for easier access to basil, parsley, cilantro and other herbs that help boost nutrition and taste in meals
  • Weighted blanket – get a more restful sleep to recharge the caregiver batteries

There is some science that suggests that weighted blankets can induce a deeper, more restful sleep and alleviate anxiety. Caregiver or not, literally everyone can benefit from more sleep, and more sleep is the essence of self-care.

Caregiver Gifts to Unwind

As difficult a job caregiving can be, most caregivers need more time to unwind and unplug after a day of giving. Even if you can’t give them the day off, you can give them reason to take one. Sometimes all it takes is a little encouragement.

Caregivers often feel satisfaction from fulfilling their duty as a family member yet often feel guilt when taking time off for themselves. Help the caregiver in your life prevent “caregiver burnout” by gifting them items that encourage rest and relaxation.

  • Bath bombs/bubble bath or shower steamer – look for products with the calming effects of eucalyptus, lavender, and other essential oils
  • Streaming gift card – give the gift of digital movies, books or music to motivate a caregiver to indulge in more “me time”
  • Noise cancelling headphones – make sure they block out every possible distraction
  • Luxury throw blanket – the largest, softest one you can find to encourage more weekend napping
  • Scented candle – aromatherapy can help the body relax even before the mind gives permission
  • Wine – sometimes all we need to unwind after a long day is a glass of pinot or chardonnay

As easy as digital media gifts can be to find online, they can be confusing to purchase. This Digital Gift Giving Guideis a helpful resource to those who are not sure where to start.

Caregiver Gifts to Express Gratitude

A whimsical gift, while not always useful, shows you have put in the effort to select a unique and personal gift. Any personalized item will double as a daily reminder of how much you appreciate your caregiver.

By their very nature, caregivers are thoughtful people and deserving of a heartfelt and thoughtful gift. Something that shows you’ve put effort into choosing it just for them. There are thousands of items that can be personalized, but here’s a primer to get your imagination working:

  • Personalized jewelry – a gold necklace engraved with your caregiver’s name or an inspirational message can convey your sentimentality
  • Personalized monogrammed tote – helpful for lugging around caregiving supplies from groceries to medical equipment and more
  • Coffee mug inscribed with a message of gratitude – say thank you to a caregiver every morning without even being around
  • Christmas ornament – websites like Etsy.com and uncommongoods.com offer a huge selection as long as you order far enough in advance

Most importantly, don’t forget to include a hand-written note with your gift, which often means more than the gift itself. Remind the caregiver in your life that you could not….physically, emotionally, spiritually, literally, and whole-heartedly…do it without their support.

The Gift of Time

For virtually any caregiver, the best holiday gift is the one that affords them more time to themselves. Respite is an essential coping strategy for caregivers and can help prevent health problems commonly associated with caregiver stress. Whether 20 minutes a day or three days a week, taking a break away from caregiving is not only a gracious gift, it’s a life rope.

Senior living communities like Sonata Senior Living offer the convenience of respite care to provide periodic stress relief to family caregivers as well as time off for vacations, work, emergencies, and other family obligations.

The right level of respite care offers caregivers a well-deserved break along with the peace of mind that their parent, spouse or loved one will be well cared for by professionals.

Call or visit a Sonata Senior Living assisted living community to see if respite care is an option for you.

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Holiday emotional health

Coping With the Holidays as a Widow

Coping With the Holidays as a Widow

You don’t really need Nat King or Bing to sing it to you, although they’re always ready to oblige.

Yes, it’s here again. That season of constant tugs on the heartstrings, appeals to tradition and full immersion in family events that can be so meaningful and joyful, and yet so difficult for one still learning to adjust to the unimaginable loss of a spouse. How can one cope with the return of grief during this time of year yet still thrive as the holiday season unfolds?

Here’s a few suggestions we’ve learned have worked for widows and widowers navigating the year-end holidays.

Simplify the schedule

We all know the feeling of the holidays galloping through our lives, leaving us spinning in their wake. Coping with the holidays as a widow may require bringing it down to a manageable size. Resist the temptation to overcommit, embracing the opportunity to simply let life happen at your own personal pace.

Reach out a little

There are people in your life who would help, given the opportunity to do so. They may be our friends and family. In addition, we at Sonata Senior Living have known instances where new friends and acquaintances made in our communities simply provide a hand at just the right time. New friends in senior living can broaden our conception of family and help us cope when we need it most.

Feel your feelings

The holidays are a magical time of year, but may also trigger feelings that have the power to overwhelm, particularly when we are grieving. Being true to yourself means being honest with those in your life. Talking about your feelings rather than stuffing them can help us cope with emotions when they come.

Try something new

Especially for those dealing with loss, the holidays can surprise us with their power if we leave space for the power of surprise. This can mean simply having the willingness to try out a new opportunity for socializing or exploring a new craft or artistic endeavor. Senior living communities like Sonata Senior Living offer an abundance of social opportunities, particularly around the holidays.

Do what works, not what’s expected

The holidays can seem like a welter of expectations. But these can be extra burdensome when we are processing grief. Do what feels right and be willing to do less or accept the help of others if it helps you feel less overwhelmed. At Sonata, our model of designing one’s day around one’s personal preferences is based on doing what works for the individual. It is an important part of the person-directed care we provide in our independent living, assisted living and memory care communities in Florida.

Let grace happen

The end of the year and the beginning of the new are intertwined. While enjoying the holiday season, we should avoid exhaustion so that we can recommit to a robust and active approach to life. Practicing a spiritual approach to living is one of seven dimensions of wellness at Sonata Senior Living. In fact, our proprietary Live It Up! program for life enrichment is based on these seven principles.

Grace has a way of descending on us when least expected. All it needs is for us to be open to its power and presence. Recognize that spirituality in whatever form you believe may be what we most need to prevail the holiday season fully restored and face life with the opportunity for gain, even with the reality of loss.

Learn more about the award-winning independent and assisted living at Sonata Senior Living and schedule a tour today.

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Wellness and Safety in Senior Living: The Best of Both Worlds

Wellness and Safety in Senior Living: The Best of Both Worlds

If you are caring for an aging parent or spouse, safety and security become a concern when your loved one’s health begins to decline. As a concerned family member and caregiver, their wellness and safety is your primary goal.

Many older adults prefer to stay in the family home even as their health care needs increase, but over time, it may no longer be practical —or safe for that matter—to stay home. Increasing doctor’s visits and medical needs may require more attention, care, and care coordination than you can provide on your own.

Assuring Senior Wellness and Safety

When an older adult is independent, maintaining holistic wellness is much easier. But with a decline in mobility, chronic illnesses, and increasing isolation, maintaining both physical and emotional wellness can be difficult. With numerous doctor, therapy, and specialist appointments, and multiple medications to remember, even the most organized caregivers can struggle to provide proper care at home.

Caregivers and families face a variety of responsibilities and challenges when caring for an aging parent:

  • Transportation to doctor’s visits
  • Ensuring social connection and companionship
  • Managing medications
  • Coping with dementia agitation and confusion
  • Maintaining physical and cognitive function
  • Assuring proper nutrition and hydration

Safety may be even more difficult to maintain in the family home. One reason is that your loved one’s changing physical and cognitive status may involve making significant changes to the home environment. Household tasks that once seemed effortless may suddenly become a safety hazard, putting your loved one at risk for injury.

To ensure your loved one’s safety in the home, evaluate important accessibility features and abilities such as:

  • Bathroom accessibility
  • Ability to climb stairs
  • Emergency preparedness
  • Driving ability
  • Fraud and scam protection
  • Dressing and bathing
  • Cooking
  • Laundry
  • Wandering

Wellness and Safety in Assisted Living and Memory Care

As caregiving begins to take up more of your time and energy, you may wonder if it’s time to ask for help. Here are some questions that can help you determine if the time is right to seek assisted living support and long-term care services:

  • Is it too expensive to make accessibility changes to the home?
  • Are there safety concerns such as wandering or leaving the stove on?
  • Has medical care become too complicated?
  • Has the cost of in-home care exceeded the cost of assisted living?
  • Is your loved one isolated and depressed?
  • Do you have symptoms of caregiver burnout?

Is assisted living or memory care safer and healthier? Yes, and there are numerous reasons for this. Following a comprehensive Home Wellness and Safety Assessment, a complete care plan is tailored specifically to your loved one’s physical and emotional health needs. Many senior living communities in Florida offer on-site health and wellness services, further reducing the need for caregivers to coordinate care for their loved one.

Here are just a few of the on-site wellness services offered by Sonata Senior Living communities:

On-Site Wellness and Support Services in Senior Communities

Sonata offers access to essential wellness services such as visiting physicians; physical, occupational, and speech therapy; and electronic medical records (EMR) for seamless communications to healthcare providers. We may also provide scheduled transportation to outside medical appointments.

Once your loved one moves to Sonata, our support continues and never stops. Continuous attention to health needs, including diet and nutrition, activities, and fitness programs, provides a foundation for your loved one to maintain their health and well-being, longer. Meanwhile, you can spend quality time with your loved one rather than worry about their wellness and safety.

The Convenience of Health Care Services in Senior Living

We work closely with local health care providers to offer residents the convenience of on-site medical services. On-site health care services help families by bringing essential health care services to Sonata, removing the need for families and caregivers to coordinate doctor’s visits and therapy appointments. Families love the convenience and privacy of having health care delivered directly to their loved one.

Sonata Senior Living partners with local health care providers who visit regularly, including:

  • Visiting physicians who conduct on-site “house calls” at Sonata
  • Specialty physicians such as podiatrists
  • Visiting nurses (VNAs) who provide skilled care such as post-surgical wound care as appropriate
  • Physical, occupational and speech therapists

Safety Features in Senior Living

Accessibility and safety features are an integral part of wellness in senior living communities. Our round-the-clock care and assistance with activities of daily living ensure safe transfers, bathing, and medication management. Other features of our Sonata Safe Signature Program include:

  • Short-term stays or “respite care”
  • Scheduled transportation
  • Licensed nursing 24/7
  • The latest innovations in sanitation technologies
  • Controlled building access and monitored security cameras
  • Wireless e-call system and sensor devices for faster response times
  • Hurricane preparedness plans and generator systems that assure backup power

Safety is often a primary concern for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia and one of many reasons why families seek memory care support. At Serenades Memory Care by Sonata, a person-centered approach keeps residents safe while encouraging independence.

Whether your loved one needs assisted living or memory care, Sonata’s commitment to safety and wellness will give you added peace of mind.

Learn more about the award-winning independent and assisted living at Sonata Senior Living and schedule a tour today.

 

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Caregiver Burnout: Strategies for Coping with Caregiver Stress

Caregiver Burnout: Strategies for Coping with Caregiver Stress

Are you a caregiver? You are not alone. Approximately 42 million people take care of someone over the age of 50 in the US.

As a caregiver focused on caring for your loved one, you may not recognize the symptoms of caregiver burnout. But as your caregiving responsibilities grow, so does your emotional and physical stress level. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, your stress is even higher if you care for someone with dementia. Even if your loved one does not have dementia, chronic diseases can require intensive hands-on care and attention.

Caring for a loved one who needs assistance is a selfless act, but should not come at the expense of your own health. Most caregiving duties grow over time and can require complex medical tasks. Meanwhile, you may have a career and a family of your own.

So, how do you know if you have caregiver burnout, and what can you do about it? Let’s explore the common symptoms of caregiver stress and strategies to help you stay healthy.

What are the Consequences of Caregiver Burnout?

You might not know when your caregiving is taking an emotional toll on your health, and it is not uncommon for caregivers to ignore the negative effects when their life revolves around the needs of a family member. Caregiver burnout can have lasting negative physical and psychological consequences such as:

  • Increase risk of heart disease
  • Higher mortality rate
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Diminished immune response
  • Poorer health status
  • Risk of cognitive impairment

You can see how crucial it is to establish and engage in self-care strategies. This means taking time for yourself to be a better caregiver.

What are the Symptoms of Caregiver Stress?

There is great honor, privilege, and reward in caring for someone you love. But the energy and time it takes to tend to someone’s needs and keep them safe can be exhausting. The financial, physical, and emotional cost to you and those you love might be unsustainable. Knowing when the time has come to seek help is key to preventing the physical and psychological consequences of caregiving. Talk with other family members when you have reached your limit.

Learn how to recognize the telltale signs it could be time for assisted living and the symptoms of caregiver burnout:

  • Feeling overwhelmed and anxious
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Irritability and anger
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Headaches, chronic pain, or physical problems
  • Excessive alcohol or drug use
  • Loneliness and/or relationship problems
  • Depression
  • Guilt
  • Getting sick more often

Strategies for Coping with Caregiver Stress

Not all strategies and coping mechanisms will work for you, but many will give you a foundation of health and well-being. Think of coping mechanisms as the armor you develop to deal with stress. Scheduling even a few minutes a day to start will put you on a path to managing your caregiver stress.

One of your biggest challenges could be dealing with the guilt you may feel when you aren’t spending as much time with your loved one. Talk with your loved one and your family about your need to take time for yourself and ask for help with you need it.

Coping Strategy: Diet

Caregiving requires a lot of energy, and a proper diet can support your need for extra energy and motivation. You may be forgetting to eat or overeating and neglecting healthy foods. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables with high-quality protein to sustain your energy. Avoid junk and processed foods. Drink plenty of water and avoid eating too much sugar, which can cause your energy levels to crash when you need it most.

Coping Strategy: Stay Connected

Caregiving can leave you feeling isolated, so reach out to friends regularly and make time to see them. A simple phone call or text to connect can do wonders for your mood. And don’t be afraid to talk about your caregiver fatigue. Chances are they have or are experiencing the same thing.

Coping Strategy: Exercise

Any kind of activity is better than none at all. Take walks or do some yoga and stretching. Make it a routine by putting a calendar alert on your phone and watch your stress dissolve.

Coping Strategy: Me Time

You may not have much time, but squeezing in a movie, listening to music, or any other activity with friends or family will energize you.

Coping Strategy: Counseling

If you have any symptoms of depression or anxiety, reach out to a therapist to discuss coping skills. Also, talk to your doctor about your concerns. Caregiver support groups are also a great source of comfort. Senior living communities such as Sonata Senior Living offer support groups to caregivers.

Know Your Caregiving Limits

You can’t, nor should you, do it all. Ask for help when you need it and realize that most people want to support you but don’t know how. If you have siblings, ask for their help. Delegating small tasks can make a big difference.

The time it takes to provide care can leave few opportunities for quality time with your loved one and the rest of your family. At some point, a memory care community or assisted living community may make sense. Round-the-clock care in a senior living community relieves you from caregiving duties and gives you more time to be present with your loved one.

Learn more about the award-winning independent and assisted living at Sonata Senior Living and schedule a tour today.

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Visit Sonata Senior Living and find out how personalized programming in assisted living promotes independence and well-being.

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